Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mobile Montessori

Mobile Montessori:  All packed up and ready to go!
What can you do if you want Montessori for your children but you don't have the training or materials? One option may be to find a "Mobile Montessori" - a trained directress who is willing to come to your house, bring in her materials, and lead a class.

I never planned on doing this sort of thing (mainly because I have a bad back and assumed that I couldn't schelp the stuff), but one of the moms who came to our Montessori Mornings was very allergic to my (omnipresent) dog, so of course I was willing to try bringing a class to her house--as an experiment.  I didn't take much--just mats, some educational toys and a few traditional Montessori works.

This "Open-Close Basket" is full of empty containers  with different closures.
Well the experiment was a success, and the next time she invited some of her friends to join us.  And now another mom has started doing the same thing.   I try to bring some works that would be easy for them to put together at home, like the Open-Close Basket.  That work also has the added advantages of being light to carry,  easily replaceable if parts get lost, and attractive to a wide range of ages.

This mom of 4 helps her oldest with the Binomial Cube while her youngest inspects an empty container.
In both cases the host provides a clean, open space.  This is kind of huge--to carve out part of your house and clean it and brace yourself for the onslaught of toddlers!

This mom, the host who invited me to her home, helps with a silverware sorting work.
The Open-Close Basket is actually fun for a variety of ages.  You just need to be careful that the youngest don't put small caps in their mouths!
It takes me about 10-15 minutes to unload my materials and set them up (as if I had an ellipse on the floor), and then I begin class with group time:  songs, I Spy, and some discussion.  After a brief description of how to use the mats and an invitation to come to me for any help they may need, I let the moms and children loose on the materials.  Since new moms may not know how to use the materials, I try to give brief presentations as I see the need.

Mats help define a work area and they can help protect the floors of the hostess' house!
The class may be just an hour, depending upon my schedule and the needs of the group, but it's been a great way for those otherwise unfamiliar with Montessori or unable to attend Montessori Mornings to expose their children to it!
I've noticed that the Rosary cases with the hinged-squeezy openings are really challenging, even for older children.

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5 comments:

  1. Great idea! Excited for you!

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  2. Love to see this in action. I have been thinking about doing something like this recently.

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  3. There are several wonderful advantages of doing this. For one, I am exploring more tailored instruction for children with disabilities/special needs. Also, I am more able to chat with parents about behavioral concerns and discipline, which tend to be a huge part of our lives when our children are young!

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  4. I've been considering doing this at a local library, co-op style. What's hanging me up is the management. Please tell me more about the work set up and the ellipse. Are the children sitting in the ellipse? Where do you set out the works and rugs exactly? Do you give a brief group lesson on each one? Or do parents just figure it out? And does the child come get a rug and then choose where to put it? Or are the rugs already positioned on the floor? Also, how many children do you find that this is doable with, and about how many works do you provide per child? Do your older children come and participate? As you can tell, I am very interested in this idea!

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  5. All great questions! And maybe I should do another post on this, but here goes some quick answers:

    --I arrange works on the floor (some on mats already) in the shape of an ellipse. I intersperse blank mats, too.
    --A couple of times I actually brought light, child-sized chairs to also intersperse but the children really just ignore the chairs and sit on their moms' laps (so I stopped bringing the chairs). They take their shoes off before sitting down with the group.
    --I start with the same 3 introductory songs as I always have at my house. One child was able to come to my house twice, so she kind of "got" what I was doing and she knew how to do a few of the works. I also end with the bye-bye song.
    --I purposely brought several materials that are more "toy-y" that "work-y," just as schools often do for the first several weeks while they transition children slowly. That way I have time to show each child new works. By that I mean educational toys that invite manipulation, not loud electronic button toys.
    --In a few cases I incorporated a group lesson on a work into the end of the introductory period, so everyone knew how to use it.
    --I haven't really done the math on how many works per child. I just take a couple of boxes worth for an hour. This time may be extended as this experiment unfolds.
    --So far have done it with 3-5 children, plus the moms and any baby sibs. There are many subtle ways to instill some formality to the group, and that is important.
    --My older daughter has helped teach the Montessori works one-on-one with any children that have bonded with her.
    --I maintain the same strict rules about NO GERMS and if I think a younger baby sib with sniffles has been mouthing the materials I carefully wash the materials after the session and before bringing them again.
    --One last point: it's important to set up without the children touching the materials and talking with you as you do it. It may take 5-10 minutes of hard work, but then you can invite the moms and children to "school" and begin.

    Keep the questions coming!

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